elena
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Why I don’t sign up for big programs at the end of an event anymore.

I work in a whole industry that is based on creating a hype, a big draw, a big pulse of energy, peak states, and then making sales from that space. But I don’t work like that. Here’s why.

How many of you have you had an experience like this?

It’s 2015 and I’m standing at the back of the room at the purchasing table, in front of man who’s job it is is to help me say yes to them. “To say yes to myself…” as the star woman on stage might have said it.

Not one person who has sold to me from the stage has ever asked me. “Do you have any history of making big purchases and not following through that might make this purchase a completely unreasonable choice for you right now?” or “Do you feel you have what it really takes to build your business on a regular basis?” or “If you make this purchase, do you have enough money to pay your rent this month?” or “Do you feel that having an infant strapped to your chest right now is a good marketing angle?”

Maybe I should have asked MYSELF those questions. But I don’t. The mental illness of the time means that I’m in a constant search for something higher, bigger, more powerful to rescue me from the pain that is my daily life. I have no concept of how to ask the people around me for the help I need, and I have no concept of how to get help other than by paying for it.

Maybe another person is able to live somewhere in the middle, somewhere between most excited, and least excited, somewhere that allows them to move forward into this with a healthful space. But not me in 2015.

He looks at me and asks, “What do you need, to say yes to yourself?”

“I’m scared.” I say. He looks at me. He probably sees another version of hundreds of people he’s seen that could benefit from more support, more accountability, all the things they are promising today. He might see me as a commission cheque. He probably sees himself before he began to work with “the woman on stage”. He looks me straight in the eye… “Why don’t you just JoyGasm the fear?”

The bigness in me goes “oh yes, of course” and switches the switch, fear and anxiety become power and yes. I feel that pulse of power, and I hand over my credit card and my life changes. But not the way they think.

The $5000 that I put down that day got me on the other side of the line. I got a green ribbon on my chest, and I got to feel like a winner for 40 minutes as the exit music plays. I got to feel like someone who supports myself and makes big choices that help me breakthrough to the next level. It got me in the “winners corner” in the last moments of this event, it got me access to weekly accountability calls, and a list of things to do in order to “make my business succeed”.

But I don’t succeed. Not the way I thought I would. All it does is mark the “beginning of the end” of my journey with credit cards. It wasn’t the first purchase that I made like that, but it was something that I never actually paid off that contributed to the moment when I said: “Okay, bankruptcy is now the only option.”

If he’d actually known me… If he’d been a friend, he might have known to ask me what kind of support I needed to break the cycle of “buying my way to success”, or asked me if I was at a place in my life where I was able to actually make that purchase. I don’t doubt that some of the people in the room, a $5000 purchase wasn’t a big deal. To me it was 1/3 of the total of what I would make that year, and I never made my investment back, and I never paid it off either.

This was the second (of 3 times) in my life that I plopped down $5000 to a coach to help me build my business. It didn’t work. It just added to the pain body of being abandoned and mislead and betrayed by someone who had promised to support me.

So to not be “her” I played smaller. I self-sabotaged. I thought about creating a group program but couldn’t bring myself to do it. I thought about making bigger sales to people, but worried about how they would feel if I failed to create the results I wanted to create for them. (and I felt that I had failed my clients before) I wanted to charge more for my services, and I saw that when I did that my clients became more troublesome, asking for more, I still didn’t hold boundaries and I failed to deliver.

I knew the healers I was working with didn’t have much money. But did they actually not have it? or was I just projecting my own poverty onto them? Some of them had it because some of them paid it.

But the pain of that “betrayal of the coach” crippled me.

“People treat you the way that they were treated.” ~ Matt Kahn

Even though I’m an entrepreneur, and have been since 2010. Even though I no longer working soul destroying 3-12pm kitchen/admin/manual labour work, I’ve often still been doing work I don’t want to be doing because I needed to keep earning a living. Doing work that I wanted to say “fuck you” or “I’m tired” or “I’m sorry I overcommitted and under delivered, and I can’t help you right now because there are three of you asking me to do things all at the same time, I haven’t managed to get out of bed in the last 3 days, I want to die, and all I want to do is cry at the fact that I’ve already put the numbers of hours I budgeted into your project, and from this moment fowards I will grow more and more resentful of each of your emailed questions, beause they mean that I’m not getting paid $50/hr, now it’s $40, one more question, one more change? Now it’s $25.

One more thing? I forgot to do something, oh no problem.
Now it’s $12. $6. $3/hr.

In those early years it happens enough times and I begin to avoid putting myself in those situations. Not by setting better boundaries, but by putting off opening the emails. Searching for new clients, with fresh money, and avoiding the old ones if I can.

I’m also a classic “indigo kid/millennial” living in a foreign country, bucking the system, without a work visa, and a small child still strapped to my chest. “Being a part of the system” and getting a job isn’t an option.

I’m overwhelmed and traumatized from starting a business and single parenting a child at the same time. I’ve been struggling with depression for years, and it’s only getting worse.

So I’ll choose a different niche, a different client, choose a different angle, a different solution. When none of that works I’ll choose to keep doing what I know does work, and what I’ve resented since the beginning, and keep doing it. Because it’s all I know how to do. It’s what keeps working, so I keep working it.

It wasn’t until three years later, in the winter of 2018, tired of running, and exhausted from trying something new, that I turned around and emailed each and every one of the 100 people I designed for in those early years and asked them “Were you ever mad at me during our work together?”

I started with all the clients I thought who would be most mad at me. I asked each of them, and they all came back and said: “you’re a very talented designer, sometimes flaky, and I was never mad at you.”

Classic case of projection of emotion. I had been furious at each of them. For stealing my time. For asking questions, for halting my headlong progress towards my goals. For being in my life, at a time when I was furious at everyone, all the time. Especially myself.

So when I re-designed my web design practice in 2017, I decided to charge hourly instead of per project, because I couldn’t face the PTSD and pain of losing $ for each extra request.

The ego codifies and stops learning. The subconscious tries to stay safe, and stay with what it knows. Even when what it knows is just pain.

But when that fixed mindset comes in and says “no you can’t because in the past, this was a source of destruction for you.” It makes sense to listen to it, as a form of self-preservation. Don’t take on another client because you will just end up frustrated and angry at them.

But the other option was “find a job” (which as a single parent also means putting my child in full time care)
The other option was “find a way to live without money” (which as a single person means you get to stop eating, which I’ve done. And and as a parent, it
s not an option)
The other option was to “find a way through the trauma” (which as a stubborn as fuck single parent was the option I chose.)

I needed to find a way through, and it certainly wasn’t through more outwards action.
It certainly wasn’t through doing the same thing over and over again.

I had to find a way to break through.
A series of slow and steady breakthroughs.

Understanding that no matter how much or how little I worked, my monthly finances always broke even.

Understanding that no matter what I did, when I said yes to design, the clients came flooding forwards.

Understanding that I needed to rest, and transform myself. And that it came as a gift.

A beautiful woman in the community invited me along to a personal development event. I knew I wasn’t going to buy the big package. Having given up the credit card, and trusting/living close to break even every month, the $5000 wasn’t an option.

I went into the event, clear that I wasn’t going to buy,
Clear that I was going to get the most I could out of THIS.

This brought its own sense of relief.
I showed up, not to analyze and strategize how to copy her.
Not to criticise and condemn and badmouth her mentally the whole way through.

But to learn. To transform. To change.

I participated fully in each of the exercises, and I offered myself the opportunity to grow.
To do something new, to be open to change.

As we move through one of the exercises, my whole body shifts and transforms.
The subconscious, finally understanding that it’s safe to be here.
Safe to be me. Fine to cry. Fine to laugh.
Fine to explore and expand and be bigger than I used to be.

That it’s fine to find my own marketing strategy,
to do things my own way.

To offer design, and writing, and love, and support,
and business strategy, and visioning,
and subconscious self-sabotage overcoming transformation.

I finally understand that I can shine,
by helping others shine.

And I can figure out how to do all of it, together.

For a fee, that doesn’t break anyone’s bank
and actually provides bang for the buck.

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